The False Gospel of Authenticity
Updated: Apr 22
Tom Gentry wrote, “I’ve come to learn that, in one way or another, being less than true to myself has been the root of all my difficulty in life..… So, if I preach anything, it’s the gospel of being who you are.”1 Does that gospel sound attractive to you? Is that wise advice?
Being authentic these days means openly sharing our messes with others. That can be a step in the right direction, but it usually doesn’t go far enough spiritually. It is like talking about an elephant’s tail when the whole elephant is a mess. It takes the form of “I am not okay, and you are not okay, but that is okay because we are confessing our messes to one another. We are not pretending to be what we are not.”
Is the mess much larger than we imagine? Are we merely missing some human standard, or are we falling short of an infinitely higher one? Romans 3:10–18 (NIV) describes who we are from God’s perspective apart from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Being authentic to our rebellious ways isn’t a virtue. Jesus’ message is to repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15). Repentance is doing something about the mess. The hope of the gospel is how messes like us can become like Jesus.
Christians must be honest with God and others. We must not pretend to be what we are not. We must be authentic. But being authentic focuses on becoming the unique people God created us to be. We are not stuck in some inescapable tar pit of our failures.
By God’s enabling grace, we can progressively turn messing up into blessing up. Are we sorry enough about our messes to repent of them and do something about them with the power God provides to be different and better? Our purpose is to glorify God, not our messes.
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1. The Gospel of Authenticity. A few months ago, I launched a podcast… | by Tom Gentry | The Path to Authenticity | Medium
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